The ugly truth is that there are only three ways to allocate healthcare: auction (ability to pay), queuing (standing in line), and bureaucratic fiat (an "expert" deciding who gets what healthcare). All healthcare systems use some mixture of these three methods, with the proportions varying according to political demand, the history of local institutions, and national income. There is no a priori virtue to any one of these three allocation methods, and there is widespread consensus about the best method for many procedures. Almost everybody agrees that we should allocate breast augmentation surgery by auction, emergency care by queuing, and flu vaccination in times of shortage by bureaucratic fiat. The arguments about allocating the treatment of chronic conditions that diminish the quality of life without immediately threatening it are far more difficult. Which should come first, advanced drugs for my wife's MS, or surgery for your brother's debilitating chronic back pain? Now there's a toughie.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Some Edges In The Healthcare Debate
A post on healthcare over at Tigerhawk discusses universal health care as it might develop in America. He links to folks who claim "it'll never happen," and to others who point out what the American people would absolutely require of any future healthcare arrangement, and how difficult some of those are politically. Several new aspects I had not considered at the link.
Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at 8:09 PM